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A near perfect performance of Johannes Brahms's gloriously lyrical Clarinet Quintet in B minor, Op 115 highlighted the 11 June 2004 concert. The mellow clarinet tones of Franklin Cohen, principal clarinet of the Cleveland Orchestra, were a joy to hear. Cohen was alive to the unique shape, phrasing, and nuances of every bar of this miraculous score. He really listened to his colleagues' playing and unleashed his tonal palette in a gorgeous blend of sound. The incisive playing of Silverstein and Kavafian, the darkly burnished hues of violist Barbara Westphal (an instructor at the Musikhochschule in Lubeck, Germany), and the warm, glowing tone of Ronald Leonard (former principal cellist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic) made this performance special. The gleaming line of the Andantino (a typically Brahmsian melody) and the autumnal glow of the final Con moto were but two highlights of this wonderful account of a late Brahms treasure! The 1944 Trio by Bohuslav Martinu (1890-1959) proved to be a scintillating, Gallic influenced rarity. Starr gave rhythmic thrust to the darting piano line. Flutist Leone Buyse brought golden tone and agility to the bravura wind writing. Cellist Christopher Henkel offered protean support. Levin's elegant, grandly romantic piano pyrotechnics enlivened a fine rendition of Mendelssohn's lovely Piano Quartet No 2 in F minor, Op 2. This remarkable creation of the fourteen year old Mendelssohn deserves more frequent performances. The melodies are inspired; the formal structure is tight and rigorous. Levin's light, spirited playing was abetted by the warm string tones of Kavafian, Westphal, and Henkel. A worthy revival!

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Copyright © 24 June 2004 Lawrence Budmen, Miami Beach, USA


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